Time Running Out for the Volkswagen Passat?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Volkswagen bestowed the mildest of refreshes on its midsize Passat for 2020, but you’ll be forgiven if you didn’t notice. These days, people are too busy trying to tell the recently enlarged Jetta apart from its slightly beefier stablemate.

Even the previous Passat’s six-speed automatic carried over for 2020.

With Volkswagen charging ahead (ahem) on electrification, the automaker now admits the current Passat may be the last.

Speaking to Roadshow, Volkswagen of America Chief Operating Officer Johann de Nysschen admitted the company’s present course makes a next-generation, gas-powered Passat unlikely.

“Passat is a car that has a finite lifespan in terms of our planning,” de Nysschen said on the sidelines of this week’s Chicago Auto Show.

“It’s probably a reasonable assumption that when this Passat reaches the end of its lifecycle, its successor will probably not feature an internal combustion engine.”

Whether or not that successor retains the Passat name is an open question. Volkswagen’s dedicated electric MEB platform is said to spawn any number of bodystyles and variants, including higher-end sedans, but those revealed thus far all carry ID-specific nomenclature. The ID Vizzion concept is one such vehicle.

When prodded about naming a follow-up the “Pazzat,” de Nysschen, formerly president of Cadillac, remarked that he does harbor “a preference for weird alphanumerics.”

Introduced for the 2012 model year, the current-gen Passat soldiers on with its outdated platform, having watched most other VWs adopt the company’s newer MQB architecture. As sales decline, VW clearly felt the Passat wasn’t worth investing much money in. That makes the potential nameplate discontinuation unsurprising.

In 2019, Passat sales shrunk 66 percent compared to the year before; in 2018, sales fell 32 percent. A trend is afoot. Best guess for a successor? 2023.

[Image: Volkswagen]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Feb 10, 2020

    It may go away in North America, but--like the Focus and Fiesta--still be produced in Europe and sold in Europe, Asia and probably Australia. With the possibility of bringing it back here given a shift in demand for sedans.

    • Threeer Threeer on Feb 10, 2020

      There are pretty significant differences in the US and Euro Passat...so much so, that they won't even sell the revised US-variant Jetta in Europe, as it is too close in size to the Passat. We were thinking of either a new Jetta or Passat to take with us to Germany, but decided against it, opting instead for a first gen Tiguan. I like VW, but both the Jetta and Passat are too close together for me to be seriously interested. I guess older Passat owners should be happy enough, as their vehicles will be almost indistinguishable from the 2020...

  • Fleuger99 Fleuger99 on Feb 10, 2020

    This Passat is a shitty North American only model. If they imported the rest of the globe Passat they might see better sales. This thing is cost cutter to compete with base Camry and Accord.

  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.
  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?